Publisher: AK Press / Institute for Anarchist Studies
Released: February 6, 2024
A revolutionary new study of gentrification ... and how to stop it.
Cities around the world are in the midst of a profound transformation as the wealthy price out the remnants of the urban working class, especially people of color. Displacement is neither accidental or inevitable. It happens because a whole range of people and institutions profit handsomely. Defying Displacement, focused on the US but informed by global examples, investigates gentrification from the perspective of the people fighting it, members of communities whose survival is threatened by some of the most powerful institutions on the planet. Andrew Lee names the names and identifies the actual state and corporate forces that work together to enrich a very specific group of people: property developers and real estate investors who make a killing, politicians who watch their tax bases grow, banks that write profitable loans for new businesses and mortgages for new homeowners. Meanwhile, business districts are planned, tax abatements unveiled, redevelopment schemes dreamed up, corporate and university campuses expanded, and ordinary people are driven from their homes.
The city has long served as the stage for political life and popular revolt. As mass displacement alters the composition of gentrifying cities, the avenues available for social change become unsettled as well, forcing us to reimagine our strategies for building a better world. Around the world communities are pushing the struggle against forced displacement in new directions, shutting down developments and evictions and bringing cities to a halt, fighting militarized police and the most powerful companies in the world. Activists and residents in struggle—dozens of whom are interviewed by Lee to inform his work—are charting the way forward to affordable and sustainable cities run by the people who inhabit them.
Praise for Defying Displacement:
“So often gentrification is a process understood in limited terms as a flow of people or the impersonal and inevitable flow of capital. In Defying Displacement, Andrew Lee analyzes both in tandem, illuminating how gentrification transforms not only housing markets, but the horizon of possibility for revolt. Regardless of where they are reading from, readers will be able to understand this subject with a fresh appreciation of how global struggles past, present, and future are linked by the making and unmaking of cities.” —Ayesha Siddiqi, editor in chief of The New Inquiry
“All too often, gentrification is treated as a kind of moral failure in personal choice or preference, or, even worse, is treated as inevitable. Andrew Lee’s Defying Displacement does the invaluable work of placing gentrification in its proper global economic and political contexts, without losing sight of its devastating personal and local impacts and longstanding role in settler-colonialism and white supremacy. Putting in-depth research in broad social and economic trends alongside interviews with displaced people and reporting on the sites of struggle and resistance against gentrification, the book allows the analyses of those most affected and engaged in struggle to shape its arguments. In doing so, Defying Displacement opens up an exciting theory of the state and capitalism, while showing how people struggling over cities, neighborhoods, and homes are poised to overthrow them. More than a right to the city, this book shows how a fight for the city can mean the fight for total liberation, and is a needful resource for all those who fight for and dream of a better world.” —Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting
“Andrew deftly outlines the urgency of the housing crisis by centering those that should always be at the crux of the conversation, and calls for the radical resistance that displacement deserves.” —Nicole Cardoza, founder of Anti-Racism Daily
“This book could be extremely useful to activists. Keep using the enemy's own history against them. This ain't capitalist 'progress,' it's class warfare and ethnic cleansing. Let's organize the hood! Reclaim the city for the people! All power to the people!” —Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, author of Anarchism and the Black Revolution
Andrew Lee has been involved with grassroots anti-displacement campaigns in San José, California. He currently lives in Philadelphia, where he continues to work on similar issues. He has written for Yes! Magazine, Teen Vogue, and The Progressive and serves as Managing Editor for The Anti-Racism Daily.